- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2008

CLEVELAND — Finally, the Wizards had a team right where they wanted them.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were down to eight players because of their multi-team trade on Thursday, and the Wizards were in prime position to snap out of their slump.

But DeShawn Stevenson’s drive and one-handed shot in the final seconds was way off as the Wizards lost 90-89 to the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena last night.

It was the Wizards’ second straight loss and their 10th in 11 games. Just like the Cavaliers, the Wizards were without players but because of injuries.

A full roster or not, coach Eddie Jordan said any loss is frustrating.

“They have a great player,” Jordan said of LeBron James. “He’s a monster. He creates so much for everyone else. But it’s disappointing to lose against anybody.”

Brendan Haywood didn’t want to use the injuries as an excuse for the loss.

“No one cares,” Haywood said. “We’ve got to fight through it, and we’ve got to go get a win tomorrow.”

The Wizards had a chance for one last night, if they would have played a little defense and a little smarter, especially down the stretch.

The Wizards trailed by one at halftime, but they came close to leading when Antonio Daniels dunked seemingly at the buzzer, as he crashed to the court.

But the basket was waved off and more importantly, the Wizards lost Daniels for the rest of the game with a sprained wrist.

The Wizards’ defense failed them in the third quarter, when James — who had 33 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists — combined with Damon Jones for 22 of the Cavaliers’ 24 points in the quarter.

James scored inside and Jones was 3-for-4 on 3-pointers.

“Damon’s the last person you can leave open and let shoot,” Haywood said. “We had to have other guys beat us and somehow, our rotations were getting messed up and he kept getting the ball.”

Wizards reserve Darius Songaila scored 11 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter. His hot hand and two free throws by Stevenson late in the game gave the Wizards a one-point lead with one minute remaining.

On Cleveland’s last possession, James was fouled on a drive. His two free throws gave the Cavaliers a one-point lead with 7.8 seconds left.

Jordan called a timeout and then the play in the huddle.

“I was hoping to get the ball into Antawn a little bit off the lane area so we could get a play inside,” Jordan said.

That play was not open, so Stevenson got the ball at the top of the key.

He got past his defender, Devin Brown, and found a crease in the defense but center Zydrunas Ilgauskas came over and forced Stevenson to take a wild, one-handed shot that hit the top of the backboard as the buzzer sounded.

“I went to the basket, and I thought Z was going to come out farther and he didn’t,” Stevenson said. “He put me in a bad situation where I had to throw the ball up. I just didn’t get it up like I wanted it.”

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